Stellantis, Renault heads play down merger speculation

By Thomson Reuters Feb 15, 2024 | 7:08 AM

By Gilles Guillaume

PARIS (Reuters) – Stellantis and Renault chief executives have both played down recent press speculation about a possible tie-up between the two carmakers.

Italian daily Il Messaggero said earlier this month that the French government, which is Renault’s largest shareholder and also has a stake in Stellantis, was studying plans for a merger between the two groups.

“We don’t have any projects in progress, we don’t have any discussions in progress,” Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis, the world’s third-largest largest carmaker by sales, said during a call with media on Thursday after delivering 2023 results.

Shares in both carmakers rallied after they pledged increases in dividends and a share buy back in the case of Stellantis.

His counterpart at Renault, Luca de Meo, said in an interview with French paper Le Figaro released late on Wednesday that large-scale consolidation was complicated, particularly during a period of industry upheaval as carmakers develop electric vehicle and hybrid technologies.

“On paper, Tesla could buy Volkswagen or Stellantis: it has the means. Why doesn’t it do it? Probably because it’s not that simple and perhaps not that interesting. A merger only succeeds if there is a will on both sides,” he said.

He said it is better to be agile at times of volatile demand and as technologies evolve.

Last week, Stellantis Chairman John Elkann also denied that the carmaker had merger plans.

Asked by media about his future at Stellantis, whose brands include Peugeot, Fiat and Jeep, Tavares said it would not be an issue until at least the middle of next year. His mandate expires in 2026.

(Reporting by Gilles Gillaume; Writing by Josephine Mason; Editing by Keith Weir)